“Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as a bad press. We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine – dull dogma as pepole call it. The fact is the precise opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man – and the dogma is the drama.”
– Dorothy Sayers, “The Greatest Drama Ever Staged”
A few weeks ago I ran across a book while browsing the bookstore whose title and author intrigued me. The title is “Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine” and the author is Dorothy Sayers. The book is a collection of short essays Sayers wrote on doctrine and its relevance that has been compiled recently, and I think couldn’t be more timely. The quote above is the first paragraph of the first essay, which was originally written in the 1930s.
Dorothy Sayers is perhaps best known for her mystery writing. Her most most famous character is Lord Peter Wimsey.
While the book itself is somewhat poorly edited (a number of obvious typographical and transcription errors), the razor sharp insights of the author make it worth a read. I plan to post some thoughts on each essay over the next several days/weeks as I finish reading them. Here’s more from the first essay.
After a discussion of who Jesus was and how his life, ministry, death and resurrection fit in the big picture, she says this:
“If this is dull, the what, in Heaven’s name, is worthy to be called exciting? The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused hiim of being a bore – on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him “meek and mild,” and recommended him as a fitting houshold pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. To those who knew him, however, he in no way suggests a milk-and-water person; they objected to him as a dangerous firebrand.”
How prophetic these words were for what we see going on today. It only goes to prove that
the more we think we have changed for the better, the more we find that we never really change. Something about a fallen world and a fallen nature perhaps?